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Title: Designing for ambivalence : a designer's research into the role of smartphones for mothers and young children
Author: Yurman, Paulina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 3328
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This practice-based research explores the role of smartphones for mothers of pre-school children who are their primary carers. For many women, the first few years of motherhood demand the complex negotiation of maternal and non-maternal identities. A period loaded with idealisations of motherhood and childhood, this is often a time of isolation in which mothers use and adapt surrounding resources to respond to multiple demands. In this context, the smartphone is at times used for connecting to work or to non-domestic realms, and at others is given to young children to keep quiet or entertained. Transforming from tool into toy, the smartphone becomes object of competition for parental attention, but equally turns the mother into a rival since its use is often shared. Smartphones represent work, autonomy or distraction for the mother, but also play and pacification for the child, offering multiple and competing discourses that this research explores. During the trajectory of this research, I have developed a series of experimental and critical design proposals that give form to behaviours brought by smartphones in the childrearing task. The development of these proposals formed the first stage of exploration in this research. A second stage took place in the encounters between people and the designs. At times producing both attraction and rejection, the design proposals helped me engage in conversation with others about practices, often private, that are ridden with ambivalence and guilt. Informed by critical design, psychoanalytic and feminist perspectives, this research is an example of the possibilities for design to expose unintended uses of technology, to challenge conventional user portrayals by depicting mothers as complex users and to explore potentials for change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral